Monthly Archives: May 2007

“Rocks can’t evolve. Where did they come from, Mr. Darwin?”

If there's one upside to the rapidly metastasizing theocracy in my humble homeland, it's the sheer entertainment value. My brother in strident atheism, Brock, sent me a link the other day to the Creation Science Fair. This is an event which, as the triple-oxymoron name suggests, invites 'science' projects that prove God's existence. Here's the second-place winner in the middle school category:

"Women Were Designed For Homemaking": Jonathan Goode (grade 7) applied findings from many fields of science to support his conclusion that God designed women for homemaking: physics shows that women have a lower center of gravity than men, making them more suited to carrying groceries and laundry baskets; biology shows that women were designed to carry un-born babies in their wombs and to feed born babies milk, making them the natural choice for child rearing; social sciences show that the wages for women workers are lower than for normal workers, meaning that they are unable to work as well and thus earn equal pay; and exegetics shows that God created Eve as a companion for Adam, not as a co-worker.

Do you reckon Jonathan's mom helped him put this blistering critique together? Or was her short ass too busy gathering dirty clothes and lactating?

I was also partial to other projects such as

"My Uncle Is A Man Named Steve (Not A Monkey)" – Cassidy Turnbull (grade 5)

"God Made Kitty" – Sally Reister (grade 3)

"Pokemon Prove Evolutionism Is False" – Paul Sanborn (grade 4)

"Young Earth, Old Lies" – Melvin Knuth & Glenna Reher (grade 11)

"Thermodynamics Of Hell Fire" – Tom Williamson (grade 12)

You just have to respect any subculture that's based on denying things that are demonstrably true (Take a good look at your uncle, Cassidy. The link between him and a monkey might not be direct, but it's there). Just when you think that Scientologists have hogged all the Crazy Pie, the Christians come and cut off a reliably thick slice.

The best project, from my blasphemous perspective, is "Life Doesn't Come From Non-Life":

Patricia Lewis (grade 8) did an experiment to see if life can evolve from non-life. Patricia placed all the non-living ingredients of life – carbon (a charcoal briquet), purified water, and assorted minerals (a multi-vitamin) – into a sealed glass jar. The jar was left undisturbed, being exposed only to sunlight, for three weeks. (Patricia also prayed to God not to do anything miraculous during the course of the experiment, so as not to disqualify the findings.) No life evolved. This shows that life cannot come from non-life through natural processes.

Some would argue that three weeks isn't enough to give evolution a fair chance (and praying against it during the project is just harsh, Patricia), but remember, these people think the world was created in seven days. Three weeks for a lump of BBQ coal to grow into a velociraptor is positively generous.

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Worst dates ever

One thing I love about the Internet is how it's broadened the net of anecdotes I have access to. Take, for example, Nerve Magazine's Bad Date Contest. One magazine asks its readers for tales of first-date woe, and they print the best submissions. In the era of Internet dating, this must be a growth industry. Here's some of the best bits:

  • [Letter from girl after first date:] "Robert: Since I didn't chose the restaurant, and it was more expensive than I would have opted for — I was thinking a drink, or at most an appetizer — and your company was not much fun, I would like to get some of my money back. It really was way too expensive for a first date (and not a very good one). You can send the money to my home address."
  • We are at a bar and she warns me that she "tells it like it is". It has been my experience that people who say this either a) have a deep-seated inferiority and are constantly being brusque to deflect attention; or b) are too self-centered to be bothered with tact. During the course of the forty-five minute monologue that follows, I discover she is both a) and b).
  • He was average looking enough, pleasant enough, and polite enough at the beginning. Things seemed to be going well. Until he got comfortable. Really comfortable. "You know, you look like Salma Hayek. I bet your pussy tastes like candy."
  • He gets up to use the bathroom, I see there's a line for the bathroom, he leaves the establishment. Returns five minutes later, I ask "where did you go?". He points to the phone booth outside the bar and snickers "I really had to go so I went behind that phone booth."
  • On the way to the concert we smoked pot that Farmer Bill had grown, out of an apple he had also grown.
  • I sat stunned sober watching this graduate-degreed, button-down-collared guy fling pennies at innocent drunks leaning against the bar.
  • At her house Danielle gave a tour — a much-needed icebreaker since we had little in common outside of the hospital. "Those two are thrown away," she mentioned, pointing to a knife rack missing two knives. "One was from when I attempted suicide and the other from when my mom attempted."
  • After I left his apartment I still had to see him at work, and he confronted me, quite weepily, about how much I hurt his feelings when I gave him a vague excuse for not returning his phone calls. He was the weepiest coke dealer I've ever met.

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Lightshows, gymnastics and petty theft: Just another holiday weekend in Denmark

The last few weeks in Denmark have been a veritable Blitzkreig of holidays. We've already had an un-secularly huge Easter, National Prayer Day, something about 'Befrielse', The Ascension, Kristi Himmelfart weekend, and some sort of religious calendar-artifact this Monday. And we've still got Constitution Day and a few Saint Something evenings to go. I love this country.

Here's a few pics of the Lightshow-slash-architecture-picnic we attended 'round midnight on Friday, and some blurry snaps of my friend Soren's gymnastics contest, which I stumbled out to the 'burbs to attend on Saturday. In non-highlight developments, my Portugese buddy Andre got his bag stolen right out from under us at a gay bar on Saturday night. On his birthday, no less. Damn shifty Scandinavians.

Balconies by IkeaThe DJ was playing that kind of music that's so background that only dogs and emo kids can hear itOooh, it's like a Windows Media Player visual!Sketching the darknessAlas, I forgot my singletThis is way harder than it looks, actually

 

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Overheard at the urinal

Ventured out to see Taxi Taxi last night, and discovered on arrival that it was Free Beer Night at Rust. Does this have something to do with The Ascension? Have any other deities been sucked up into the sky? Can their memories also be commemorated with free sin, please? Anyway, the show was great, but the highlight may have been this moment:

Man alone at urinal-trough: Det er lækkert, det der! Sådan!

I have no idea how to translate that to English, so I'm not gonna bother. . .

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…a Website I love and hate equally

As lame as I am to do this again, Overheard in New York's Wednesday One-Liners are rapidly becoming the staring-at-a-screen highlight of my week. Here's a smattering from today's batch:

Hipster: When I was little and went to Sunday school my teacher told us we all have a little piece of God inside of us, and I thought, I hope I have his thumb.
–4th & Bowery

Guy on cell: Oh my god, you are so interesting. Someday our bodies will connect like God intended — in anal poundage.
–Soho

Hipster: Have you ever seen a fat girl in spandex on weed?
–Union Square

Professor: … And all of this relates to Freud's concept of the super Eggo.
–St. John's University

Dude to chick: On a scale from one to cookie… you're a seven.
–Central Park

Black teen to his friends: Yo, I read the Bible nine times, and that shit contradicted itself like a motherfucker!
–Broadway & Steinway, Astoria

Woman on cell: He told me it wasn't good for the diges– uh… digesticle.
–49th & 11th

Girl: I am dating two different guys with kids and no one will take me to see Harry Potter. Now that's fucked up.
–Eatery, 9th Avenue

Man in stall, struggling: Damn you, Taco Bell!
–Bathroom, John Jay College

Girl in stall: Uggghhh! Fuck… [Panting] Fuck!
–Bathroom, Fordham Law School

Guy at urinal: Oh yeah, son! Yeah, I am dominating this shit!
–Library Bathroom, Fordham University

I like the last three because they have a theme, see?

And this is from the 'classics' section


Girl #1: So when was your first kiss?
Girl #2: My 17th birthday.
Girl #1: How about your first time making out?
Girl #2: Also my 17th birthday.
Girl #1: …first blowjob?
Girl #2: This is awkward. 17th birthday, again.
Girl #1: How about when you lost your virginity?
Girl #2: 17th.
Girl #1: How about the first time you –
Girl #2: I know what you're about to ask, and the answer is "my 17th birthday" again.
Girl #1: God damn! What the hell did you do for your 18th birthday?
–R train

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Quote of the day

"Sigmund Freud was the victim of his own poetry, which was so vivid that he took it to be a map of reality." — Clive James, 'Cultural Amnesia'

This quote could also describe Michel Foucault, Carl Jung, Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard, or or anyone else who has become famous by putting forth a metaphor for human consciousness without realizing that they were making it up. Anyone out there know of a good Danish online bookstore, so I can get ahold of this book?

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Tackling Europe’s cultural superiority, one EuroVision at a time

A lot of the current European animosity toward the US gets chalked up to George Bush, pre-emptive wars, lax gun control, and other topical political tumors. A lot of it, though, really comes down to taste. Europeans think Americans are poor conversationalists, dressers, eaters, hair-coiffers, and go-outers. The current political stuff is nice icing, but most of the tension between our continents really boils down to Snobs vs. Slobs.

Well I'm calling bullshit. Yes, American culture is tacky in a large-portions, tube-socks kind of way, but at least we have enough sense to have banished dance-pop to the 80-hertz nether-regions of the radio dial.

Last Saturday, Europe lost another chunk of its Snob Rights. That's right, it's EuroVision season again. Here's a sample:

The EuroVision Song Contest is exactly what it sounds like. Every country in Europe creates an original song, they're all performed on live TV, and then every country votes for the best one. The theory is that the winning song then gets played on radio stations, becomes a big hit, and inspires a new era of pre-World Wars continental getting-alongness. It usually ends up being more like the Oscars, though, or the Miss America Pageant: By the time the closing credits come on, you've already forgotten who won, and the song instantly retires to the cultural footnote-dom of being played at 9 pm in gay bars.

It says something about the show that this was the most entertaining song all night. But maybe I'm just a sucker for Ukranian drag queens, German counting, and Austin Powers choreography, all in under three minutes.

If you want to know how incredibly embarrassing it can get, check out Britain's entry:

The most amazing thing about this is that it's actually taken seriously. Central London was nearly deserted on EuroVision night when I was living there. Apparently there were massive parties and riots in Finland when their heavy-metal ode to … orcs or some shit won last year. An Icelandic friend of mine was pulled over when he was driving from one EuroVision party to another during the show one year, and the cops wanted to make sure everything was OK. "But why would you be driving now? EuroVision is on."

So, dear American friends, take heart. Next time one of your cheese-and-whining EuroFriends says something snide as eat your third serving of macaroni and cheese, you have a seven-word retort permanently at the ready: "At least I don't watch EuroVision, motherfucker."

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Overheard at work

There was a seminar on Hitler's legacy in the conference room next to my office today.

[after one hour of subdued murmuring]

American accent: Respect my authoritah!

[laughter and applause]

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We’ll see how smart you are when the canine comes

Heels together. Toes out. Hands at your sides. Raise the leg of your choice right in front of you, six inches off the ground, leg straight, toe pointed. Keep your eyes on your raised toe and begin counting aloud from 1,001 until I say stop.

That's the beginning of a Washington Post article about sobriety tests. Since I don't know if they even do this in other countries, I'll explain. When the cops pull you over, before they give you the official breathalyzer test to see how ruined you are, they subject you to a series of increasingly medieval tests of brainpower and agility. In some cases, it looks like this:

For some reason, every time I've been pulled over, I've never had to do any of these acrobatics. I usually just get the Spanish Inquisition:

Officer: Have you been drinking tonight?
Me: No.
Officer: But have you been drinking tonight?
Me: No.
Officer: What were you doing tonight?
Me: I saw a movie with some friends.
Officer: Drinking!
Me: No, still no.

This usually goes on for about 20 minutes, or until I mention that I play lacrosse for Duke, whichever comes first.

According to this article, none of the 'standard' tests they subject you to were ever really proven scientifically. Something like 50 percent of sober people fail these tests (standing on one leg, seriously? In the country with the world's highest obesity rate?), and most of the veteran drinkers can pass them with their arms behind their back. Or, come to think of it, standing on one fucking leg. I was drawn to this part, though:

Before Marcelline Burns and the one-leg stand, police officers were on their own.

Some threw coins on the ground and ordered that only nickels or quarters be picked up as a way of figuring out a driving-while-intoxicated arrest. They would have a driver lean back and touch one finger to his nose. Recite the alphabet without singing. Count backward from 100 by threes. Trace a paper maze. Rapidly tap a telegraph key. Some gave tongue twisters such as "Methodist, Episcopal, sophisticated statistics." Texas Rangers just chatted for a bit before making a judgment call.

Chuck Hayes, a state trooper for 30 years in Oregon, remembers fellow officers putting their flashlights down on the ground and telling drivers to run around them five times.

I don't know how scientifically valid any of those are, but "pick up my coins, drunkie!" definitely gets points for sheer degradation.

Do they do this in Denmark? Or just go straight to the breath test? I always anticipate the inevitable 'woot woot!' behind me whenever I'm doing my traditional Saturday night slalom home, but I have no idea what my chances are if they get me off the bike.

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Stuff I’ve been digging lately

Sparklehorse lyrics

Tina Fey's Sorkin-assassinating '30 Rock,' which would be the most quotable show ever if I lived in a country where anyone would understand shit like "I'm on my grind!"

'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay' by Michael Chabon, which I haven't read since I was 19 and still has a Harry Potter-like ability to keep me up halfway to Danish sunrise.

'Bros' by Panda Bear. If it's possible for one song to encapsulate the short-lived awesomeness of Danish springtime, this is it.

'Hot Fuzz,' an action movie so British it should come with fucking crumpets.

The new season of 'The Sopranos'. How's it gonna end?

Marmaduke Explained. How emasculating must it be to get up every morning and make a comic strip knowing that it will be crushingly mocked on the Internet before noon?

The everlasting this

Old episodes of 'Arrested Development,' which might be the most perfect sitcom ever.

4/29 Truth. The world needs more possible passive-aggressive takedowns of 9/11 conspiracy theories. "It is not just Rosie O'Donnell who agrees it is impossible for fire to melt steel!"

Brian Eno's bastard child Eluvium. Why shouldn't a one-note synth song be 12 minutes long?

The Sartorialist. I don't really know anything about clothes, or shoes, or which scarf goes with whatever bus I'm riding, but this dude is just so nice.

The Chemical Brothers' new album (pre-emptively).

The Concretes (retroactively).

Human dog-whistle Joanna Newsom at Vega two weeks ago and Of Montreal at Loppen last Sunday. I don't usually go to this many shows, but hey, I'm on my grind.

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